Succession season 1, episode 8 recap: ‘Prague’


In episode 8 of HBO’s Succession, Tom Wamsgans tries to enjoy a bachelor party, Greg freaks out and more business treachery is afoot.

Prior to this episode of Succession, the character of Sandy Furness (Larry Pine) was a minor character. In “Prague,” he becomes considerably more relevant. A competitor to Waystar Royco, he is another enemy to Logan Roy (Brian Cox). Still, “Who isn’t an enemy to Logan Roy?” Logan’s so into the big business game that everyone’s an opponent, and this is what his children have learned.

So, when Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong) dismisses Mr. Furness, it might not even mean much. After all, even if Furness is a threat to the Roys, wouldn’t they be doing the same thing to a competitor? When Kendall learns that Sandy’s been in touch with people at Waystar, he says, “Pepsi doesn’t drop in to see Coke.” However, that would ironically be better than the alternative, in some ways.

Succession does a great job of exposing flaws inherent to competition, including the inanity of companies competing to monopolize resources and decision-making — things which could (at least theoretically) be managed equitably and with minimal harm. In contrast, you have someone like Logan, who actively tries to harm others — even needlessly.

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Even Roman Roy (Kieran Culkin) — no stranger to being a jerk — at one point questions his father’s hostility. See, Logan considers suspect when someone leaves a business deal smiling. Roman at least says, “I like hurting human beings as much as the next guy, but this is really f***ing good.” Roman doesn’t want to back stab and sees no problem with the other person smiling at the end of a business deal. For this, he’s a softy.

Kendall’s Little Art Project

Trying to move on from Waystar, Kendall is trying to get into the art business. However, it’s immediately apparent that his corporate mentality is a setback. To the art entrepreneurs, Kendall sums up his vision: “You buy a painting from some art student in a basement, jack up the price, sell it to some Morgan Stanley sex pest, and you, me and the student get rich, right?” Even though Kendall’s being honest, the other end of the deal disagrees.

They visualize it as “a platform for marginalized artists” — with “marginalized” being the millennial buzzword to end all buzzwords. Sensing he’s in trouble, Kendall admits his background, but suggests he’s not like his father or anyone else we’ve seen in Succession. “I’m the ***hole who can be your Warhol,” he promises.

Prepping For the Party

Tom Wamsgans (Matthew Macfadyen), the fiancé of Shiv Roy (Sarah Snook), has a bachelor party in the works. Still, nothing says “party” like corporate sprying and assorted backstabbing. In addition to Sandy Furness being at the party, Logan Roy tells his great-nephew Greg Hirsch (Nicholas Braun) to keep an eye on Kendall — ostensibly to prevent him from OD’ing, but also to just spy on him.

Logan senses Greg’s obsequious loyalty, especially after he compliments Logan’s “heckuva good head of hair.” Still, when Greg tells Logan of Tom’s abusive behavior towards himself, Logan characteristically shrugs it off.

Tom Wam’s Bachelor Party: A Sandpit for Emergent Behavior

When Tom’s bachelor party finally hits, no one knows quite what to expect. The place is called “Rhomboid” for some reason, and it has a relaxed yet sexually charged atmosphere.  Supposedly, anything goes. In fact, Roman calls it “a sandpit for emergent behavior” (which, honestly, might have been a better episode title).  Still, most of the Roy party are all business. Kendall spits corporate jargon about “re-balancing from crypto into eco,” and says his firing is “better than being in dad’s pockets like Stuart Little.”

He also expresses mixed feelings about Stewy (Arian Moayed), his supposed friend and newly minted member of Waystar Royco’s board. Stewy is all business, too. He offers Kendall “half a bill” for his full share of Waystar. He urges Ken to talk it out with Sandy Furness — sort of like stepping into the Devil’s lair. To help him relax, Kendall asks Greg for ketamine.

Gil Lashes Out

For some moments, this episode of Succession breaks from the party, looking into a certain political campaign. The politician Gil Eavis (Eric Bogosian) is yet another Logan opponent. In fact, he can hardly shut up about it. In one speech, Gil says Waystar Royco is a “cancer at the heart of America.” So, of course, Logan’s own daughter, Shiv, is one of his campaign advisers. She even says, while smiling: “I can’t believe I’m paid to call my dad names. It’s so cathartic.”

Of course, this isn’t the only bit of backstabbing from Shiv. She’s also been cheating on Tom, who — despite his sociopath moments — actually seems to care for her. He affectionately calls her “honey badger” and calls Shiv to negotiate his conduct from his bachelor parties. He discusses whether it’s “an eye for an eye or an orifice for an orifice” and she just urges him to enjoy himself.

On that note, she tells her lover, Nate (Ashley Zukerman) that they’ve just been having fun — “Just people in rooms trying to be happy.” In other words, she’s trying to deflate the matter before it becomes a crisis. Similarly, she tells Nate that Gil should “cool off” on his “anti-Waystar agenda.” He counters with an impromptu speech about “overly mighty media owners setting the agenda for our democracy,” and says it’s necessary “to stop your dad eating the news.” He also says Gil can’t “speak to America” and his base. Shiv coolly replies, “If Gil can’t ride two horses at once, he shouldn’t be working at the circus.”

In the Dog Pound

When Kendall speaks with Sandy Furness, it seems to be the sleaziest thing at the party. Sandy calls his own shell equity fund “a parasite in a parasite.” When Roman interrupts, it doesn’t go over well. Ken tells him,”The adults are talking. Why don’t you go play in the other room?” He then adds, “Dad’s got him holding the plastic steering wheel in the back and telling him he’s driving.”

Oddly enough, this triggers weird a flashback for Roman. He confronts Kendall about a game called “dog pound” that they used to play as kids. When Roman was 4 years old, Kendall would put him in a cage with a leash around his neck, and he’d be fed dog food. When Roman asks Connor Roy (Alan Ruck) about it, Connor says Roman asked to be put in the cage. This, of course, suggests that Roman may have a self-abusive nature.

Ken might as well be in the dog pound himself, though. When he sees Angela (Lauren Patten), the prospective art entrepreneur, she says she doesn’t want to be associated with the Roys. In fact, she says it would be like “marrying Hitler.” Not surprisingly, he snorts a bunch of coke after this tasty little exchange. To round things off, Kendall encourages Greg to do some coke, too, which he does.

Suicide and Political Points

Eric Bogosian, photo credit: Peter Kramer/HBO

The episode darts back to Gil Eavis, who is undergoing an interview with Waystar-owned news channel, ATN. In an incredibly low blow, the news lady brings up his wife’s suicide right off the bat. While Gil dismisses it as not relevant to the issues, she persists, using it to question his mental and emotional state. Gil just isn’t having it, and notes how she’s attempting to implore people to ask, “What sort of guy has a wife who kills herself?”

Then, with some definite justification, he adds, “You want to get personal? Let’s talk about Logan Roy, shall we? The paymaster who set you up in this hack job against me today…” Then, in a pretty solid and well-deserved smackdown, he notes that Logan’s only daughter came to work for him! It’s quite a moment for Succession, and suggests that Gil Eavis isn’t one to be trifled with.

Of course, Logan isn’t one to back down, either. Perhaps against her better judgment, Shiv agrees to meet with him. She immediately knows he was behind the ATN fiasco, but he ignored it and demands that Gil stop attacking his family. Shiv dismisses it as “silencing the man who says you’re stifling dissent,” and says, “I can see through you and this transparent little offer to buy me off.” Logan makes a barely veiled threat to her, suggesting some darkness lurks ahead on Succession.

Wherever You Hide, The Party Finds You

Poor Greg is coked out of his mind. Still, that may not be why he says, “Wherever you hide, the party finds you” (another candidate for alternate episode title). This is the type of thing anyone with social anxiety might feel. Add a dysfunctional family and corporate backstabbing into the mix and escape seems impossible! In fact, everyone’s falling apart, becoming a blubbering mess. Connor keeps telling people he loves them, which almost gets him ejected for being creepy  — which, at a party where anything goes, probably means something. At one point Greg simply states, “When are we allowed to go home? this is nightmarish.” Indeed.

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Ken isn’t doing any better. When Connor implies that Logan inspired the dog pound game by discussing dog hierarchy, it becomes a trigger for him, too. However, instead of becoming out of his mind, it sobers him up. Kendall privately meets Sandy to discuss a hostile leveraged buyout against Logan, and all the “old ways” Logan represents. Ken dismisses local TV, newspapers and theme parks. He says, “Bulldoze the whole shanty-town and keep the juiciest morsels. Of course, this almost mirrors his father’s attitudes.

If you offend a Roy, they’ll get offensive right back. For example, Logan decides to not attend Shiv’s wedding. Ken, however, goes even further. He tells Frank (Peter Friedman) to put the word around that the art girls are “junkies and sluts,” and that they’re “shooting seed capital straight into their arms.” He says, “Let’s sink them.” It looks like the party’s over before it’s even begun.

What are your thoughts on this episode of Succession? Let us know in the comments!